C34 – A Stone Stirs a Thousand Ripples
Within the confines of Zuo’s Mansion’s backyard, Zuo Shuhui paced nervously in her chamber, occasionally inquiring of those outside, “Has it dispersed yet?”
It was only when she received word from a woman that Master Lu and several elders had ventured out that she hurriedly left her room and dashed toward Wu Hui Yuan.
“Mother…” Zuo Shuhui’s mind was so overwhelmed with anticipation that she couldn’t recall any shameful questions. She eagerly grabbed Mrs. Xue’s arm and asked, “Mother… outside… is it truly Master Lu?”
“Calm down,” Mrs. Xue cautioned, unable to contain her own excitement. Even though her master was swamped with responsibilities, she was willing to endure it all.
She guided her daughter to a chair and inquired with a playful tone, “Would anyone dare to impersonate Master Lu?”
“Mother, your daughter heard that…” Zuo Shuhui whispered into Mrs. Xue’s ear.
Mrs. Xue patted her daughter’s hand and reassured her, “Once your father returns, you can inquire further. We’ve only caught wind of a few tidbits, so let’s not jump to conclusions.”
“Mother, if it’s true…” Zuo Shuhui’s face flushed, and her eyes sparkled with hope.
“If it’s true, this position will undoubtedly belong to you. Mother, I promise,” Mrs. Xue’s palms were moist with perspiration. The thought of her daughter potentially becoming the Duke’s wife left her heart quaking.
This was the Zhen Manor of the Duke! If her daughter could marry into this family, she would attain a distinguished status, becoming an esteemed first-class wife and an honored mother.
This meant not only a change in social standing but also an opportunity to return to the capital. She could never forget the splendid life she had led in the capital before her departure from the pavilion.
After residing in this modest abode for over a decade, she couldn’t help but feel like a rural dweller. Her life seemed filled with endless hardships, devoid of any semblance of dignity.
“But… what about the Cao Family?” Before she could complete her sentence, Zuo Shuhui was already consumed by worry about potential repercussions from the Cao Family.
“Don’t fret, Mother will handle it,” Mrs. Xue assured, a glimmer of confidence lighting up her eyes as she gently caressed Zuo Shuhui’s hair.
A moment later, she expressed her concerns, saying, “But, my dear, your mother harbors doubts about the authenticity of this matter. The Duke Zhen Manor is a place beyond our reach, even during the zenith of the Zuo’s Mansion. We may not even qualify as minor concubines, let alone the official wife.”
Zuo Shuhui’s thoughts crystallized at her mother’s words, her eyes welling up with tears. She nestled closer to Mrs. Xue and murmured, “Mother, didn’t you mention that our great-grandfather once sought a marriage alliance with the Duke Zhen Manor? Perhaps…”
“Ah… It’s merely hearsay. Even if it’s true, it pertains to the fate of your great-grandfather. The Zuo Family’s glory has long faded into history.”
While Zuo Shuhui concurred with Mrs. Xue, a glimmer of hope still lingered within her, and she implored her mother, “Mother, please summon Father back. We can inquire of him and finally uncover the truth.”
“Don’t be impatient, dear. Your father will return when the time is right. We mustn’t leave a negative impression on Master Lu.”
In an atmosphere of anticipation and unease, the mother and daughter bided their time.
Meanwhile, in the study, Zuo Yunwen and his brother engaged in a discussion regarding this very issue.
“Elder Brother, Master Duke’s words are rather enigmatic. I’m uncertain if he intends to unite with Zuo’s Mansion.” Zuo Yunyang’s astonishment was somewhat subdued, as he had already glimpsed the wooden tablet bearing the Lu Family’s name in Zuo Shaoqing’s possession. This led him to suspect a connection between Zuo Shaoqing and the unfolding events.
This filled him with immense joy, confirming his belief that agreeing to collaborate with Zuo Shaoqing had been a wise choice.
After a lengthy pause, he remarked, “He specifically mentioned the teacher-student relationship between the Old Duke and Grandfather. He then pointed out that, had circumstances not changed, our two families might have considered a union. Considering Master Duke’s personality, he wouldn’t make such a suggestion randomly.”
“But…” Zuo Yunyang felt somewhat embarrassed as he asked, “Could it be that the Duke of State’s Palace and the Zuo’s Mansion are really considering marriage? How conceited of me to even think I could join the Duke’s Mansion?”
“Well, who knows?” Zuo Yunwen’s face displayed a mixture of excitement and self-consciousness. “Let’s keep this to ourselves for now. We wouldn’t want any misunderstandings or rumors in the family.”
“Don’t worry, big brother. I understand the gravity of the situation,” Zuo Yunyang replied. He then cautiously inquired, “Big Brother, regarding what Master Duke said to Shao Qing at the end, do they have any prior acquaintance?”
Zuo Yunwen’s brows furrowed even deeper, his thoughts tangled in a knot. “It’s impossible. The only time Shao Qing left Youuxi Town recently was to take the Changping Exam a few days ago. How could they have met?”
“You’re right.” Zuo Yunyang couldn’t fathom how Zuo Shaoqing had obtained that token, but he had no intention of revealing it to Zuo Yunwen.
“Let’s set that aside for now. In the coming days, we should have Shao Xi and the other children spend time with Master Duke. Even if we don’t become in-laws, they may secure a future that Master Duke values.”
Zuo Yunwen was brimming with excitement at the prospect of obtaining support from the Duke’s Palace. It was the greatest aspiration of his life.
Little did Lu Zheng know that his casual words had stirred up the entire Zuo’s Mansion, causing sleepless nights for its inhabitants. Even if he were aware, he likely wouldn’t care, as he had once entertained the idea of marrying into the Zuo’s Mansion.
However, that sudden notion faded away after he learned more about the Zuo’s Mansion through their information.